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Brainstretch Friday

It's either a brain or a Christmassy enormous walnut
However much we like to think those noses are pressed as firmly as ever to the grindstone, when we get this close to Christmas, there's a certain tendency to ease off. You may say this is easy for me, as I don't have a 'real job', but as far as I recall it was much the same at British Airways.

That being the case I request - nay, respectfully order - you to take a moment from the busyness of business (see what I did there?) to give your brains a little stretch. You never know - it may even make you more effective at thinking thereafter.


I normally drive over to pick up my daughter from school at 4pm (this is not true, it's a story. Go with the flow). One day, she is let out of school one hour early and decides to walk back, meeting me on the way. We get back home ten minutes earlier than normal. If I always drive at the same speed, and left home at just the right time to pick her up at four, which of the following pieces of information would you need to determine how long she had been walking (you can choose as many as you like): her walking speed, my driving speed, the distance from home to school, the colour of her coat, the speed limit.
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If you haven't already got an answer, try to jot one down now. Don't read any further.
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Last chance to consider your answer.
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There was an element of sleight of hand here. The answer is you need none of these extra pieces of information: you already know enough. As we got back ten minutes earlier than normal, I met her five minutes earlier than normal (trimming five minutes off outbound and inbound journeys), so she spent 55 minutes walking.

I think this is a useful reminder of how often we get overwhelmed by - or spend our time chasing - unnecessary information.

This exercise is from my book Instant Brainpower.

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